The Mbadifa business in Uganda, winner of the Agriterra 'Farmers in Business Challenge' is growing day-by-day. Mbadifa invested the 15,000 euro prize money in starting an agro-inputs store, thus catering to the true needs of farmers: good quality agricultural inputs, like seeds, fertilizer and pesticides. According to Kiwanuka Richard Ntambi, business manager of Mbadifa, "the prize money has boosted us tremendously". He foresees to reach the break-even point this financial year and has plans to expand their business activities.
Mbadifa introduced new products in their range of products including fertilizers, farm implements, crop protection products and vegetable seeds like beetroot, water melon, cucumber. In terms of the seeds, they recently partnered with Oriental Business Group Ltd, the importers of Dutch seeds particularly from Bakker Brothers. The water melon is largely appreciated, and the locals call it 'water melon Holland'. Many farmers come looking for those seeds.
The shop works as a 'show room', most of the products are in the store. This is because many of the products produce fumes which can be dangerous for human health, therefore only a few are kept at the display shelves. Richard: "we do not simply stock every product available with suppliers in Kampala, but we use market intelligence reports produced by the research team of the Mbarara District Farmers Association. These field officers provide us with updates and changes in farmers needs, so we can respond to their desires. This is why we introduce one or two products at a time."
Farmers and input dealers from surrounding districts come and purchase from the shop. The shop is widely known for its quality products and broad range of products, it sells generally all the products that farmers need.
There have been significant improvement in profits in the month of March as compared to February. Nevertheless, the performance was way below expectations. This has been due to the recent drought which has hit many parts of Uganda, particularly the western and central region districts.
Richard: "We continue to strive to distribute our products to farmers in remote areas. We cooperate with small input dealers in the villages and ensure they have the necessary and adequate products for farmers. Farmers now have access to quality inputs in their vicinity. Efficiency in marketing and distribution of the products, especially in regard to transportation, is still a challenge."
For coming year, Mbadifa plans to expand their business with produce marketing,. The challenge for most farmers is to sell their surplus produce. Mbadifa plans to buy their produce (especially beans and maize) and resell it to stores in the municipality. In the dry periods, when there is less demand for the agro-inputs, the capital remains idle on the bank account. By investing it in the produce marketing business they hope to add value to their capital.
Furthermore Richard explains that Mbadifa will establish a demonstration plot to test the products before there are supplied to farmers. "Counterfeit inputs still remain a big threat to agricultural development in Uganda. We hope that by testing the inputs we can test their effect before we supply them to farmers. Many unsuspecting farmers end up losing significant amounts of time and money when they use counterfeit products."